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Bob van der Valk
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Bob van der Valk is an Independent Consultant in the petroleum industry. He has over 50 years of experience in the wholesale and retail gasoline and lubricants industry. His expertise is in gasoline price forecasting, dealer tank wagon/ zone pricing issues, commercial fueling network, wholesale,... More
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  • Keystone XL pipeline hearings: Vast differences between Glendive MT and Washington DC 0 comments
    Oct 22, 2011 9:36 PM | about stocks: XOM, TRP, CLR, HAL
    This article was written in the third person by the author to give it balance.  It represents the actual events with which I have been involved without compensation in support of having the permit, for construction and operation of the Keystone XL pipeline, approved by President Obama.

    Truth and justice were absent at the raucous US. State Department hearing held in Washington DC on Friday, October 7, 2011.  This was the last but most important one, in a series of nine — six of which were held in states along the path of the pipeline – conducted by the State Department.

    The 700,000-b/d Keystone XL pipeline would foster higher production and
    greater use of North American oil in the US market, according to the report prepared by IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA).  It said that by 2015, oil sands exports will likely exceed refining capacity in the US Midwest -- currently the main market for oil sands output.

    Keystone XL will increase supply to the broader US market -- namely the
    US Gulf Coast. It states that "economic logic dictates that more supply results in lower prices for a given level of demand."

    The new Keystone XL pipeline, combined with their existing pipeline, would bring more than 1.1 million barrels of oil each day to the US Gulf Coast from tar sands crude oil in Alberta.  ExxonMobil is one of the major oil companies with an interest in the tar sands crude oil production in Canada. The $7 billion TransCanada pipeline project is tentatively slated for completion in mid-2013, when the permitting process is completed by the end of 2011.

    CERA  is an advisor to international companies, governments, financial institutions and technology providers. The organization delivers critical knowledge and independent analysis on energy markets, geopolitics, industry trends and strategy.

    The IHS CERA report highlights that US pipeline infrastructure needs to catch up with changing supply trends and expanding supply -- from Canada and the Bakken oil formation in North Dakota and Montana. The market connection for the latter was accomplished by Governor Brian Schweitzer, Montana Democratic Governor, granting eminent domain for easements through Montana in turn for the right of oil producers like Continental Resources to be able to ship crude oil from the Bakken, Three Forks and Elm Coulee oil fields using the Keystone XL pipeline with an on-ramp pipeline connection in Baker, Montana.
     
    Comments supporting building the Keystone XL pipeline, at a hearing held by the US State Department on September 27, 2011 at the Dawson Community College Toepke Auditorium in Glendive, were politely received by the US State Department officials as well as the mostly pro-pipeline audience.  Civility between pro and anti-pipeline factions allowed everyone to speak during the almost six-hour hearing.
     
    Such was not the case at the Washington DC hearing.  The US State Department staff, on hand before the meeting started, was very courteous with the crowd gathering in front of the auditorium of the building were the meeting was going to be held.
     
    These hearings were set up as a way for everyone with a gripe against building this project to state their grievances.  However, no responses were allowed from either TransCanada Pipeline officials or follow up questions asked by the hearing officer.

    Bob van der Valk from Terry, Montana, who attended both the Glendive and Washington DC hearings addressing pipeline proposal, says lack of civility was abundant among environmentalist activist at the Washington DC hearing.
     
    Outside the building and the hotel, hundreds of protesters had gathered already been gathering for a noon-time rally featuring music and speeches by environmentalists urging President Barack Obama to reject approval of the TransCanada Keystone XL project.

    Going into to the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center that morning were college students, who had been allowed to sleep overnight in the building, keeping places in line for environmental activists to speak against the pipeline.

    The deck had been stacked by environmental groups against anyone wanting to speak in favor of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline by the fact the first 60 places in line had been occupied by college students specifically recruited for the purpose to block pro-pipeline speakers from being able to make their comments.
     
    The hostility turned personal turned uglier after Bob van der Valk, an Independent Petroleum Analyst from Terry, Montana, standing at the speaker's podium stated “The Keystone XL would make the US more energy secure from countries that are hostile to us and that don't particularly care for our cultures.” The cheers outnumbered the boos after those comments from labor union workers in the audience.
     
    Sarah Hogdgon from the Sierra Club challenged him right after he spoke and questioned his ability to even being on the speaker’s roster since they had their people in line blocking anyone from making pro-pipeline comment.   The incivility shown by persons representing the anti-pipeline groups was abhorrent for any first time visitor of Washington DC not used to politics as usual.

    Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica accused the State department of "making excuses for TransCanada" based on internal emails his group sued to force into the open.
        
    National Wildlife Federation President Larry Schwinger also took aim at the Obama administration in his three-minute allotted time to speak against the Keystone XL line, wondering why Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's schedule included a meeting "with corporate leaders" but made no appearance at the pipeline hearing that day.
     
    The hearing's first hour, while dominated by critics of Keystone XL, also featured testimony from residents along the pipeline route and others who urged State to green light its construction. Their case was summed up by the representatives of the American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Laborers' International Union of North America – LiUNA.

    TransCanada CEO Russ Girling eventually had his chance to speak after the noon-time protest event outside ended and said, "The United States has a choice of receiving more oil from its most secure, most stable and most reliable trade partner, Canada, or to continue to import from less stable locations that do not share the interest and values of Americans."
     
    The hearing ended up being a staged showcase and a farce to any objective observer. It made it appear a vast majority of interested parties attending the Washington DC were against this project to receive its final approval for a construction and operating ­permit from President Obama.

     


    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
    Themes: montana, crude, keystone, girling, state, XL Stocks: XOM, TRP, CLR, HAL
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